1. Please introduce yourself (student year, major, the location of your current work, etc.)
My name is Taylor Herman. I am part of the class of 11.5. I graduated in 2015 as an International Studies major and I currently work for CBRE in the Microsoft Account at Seattle Washington. My official title is Business Operation Specialist for Global Account Operations.
2. What projects or tasks are performed in a typical week of your job?
Typically I have a few meetings discussing current processes or agenda items and where my team and I see how we can programmatically take these processes and improve them. On my own, I take raw data through Excel and use that to create actionable information and send out communications. I utilize mostly Microsoft Office tools. Excel is my main one and also SharePoint, which I don’t know if they use a lot in Korea, but especially in Microsoft, because it is a Microsoft tool, we do use it a lot. Then to a smaller extent, a Microsoft tool used Power BI. Right now we have a program called HeadTracks and it basically tracks the occupancy and all the CBRE people that work for Microsoft. Our job is to go in and do an audit. We have to export all the raw data, go through it, and see if there are any discrepancies. Basically, we programmatically manage this HeadTracks system to see that we have correct information.
3. Why did you choose the career that you are currently in?
So what I didn’t know when I was in IS was that I liked data. There was a Information Systems class and I was like “Oh my God, this sounds like it is too much.” It sounded too complicated and I hated Excel, but after I graduated I took an online course in Excel and I really love it now. You know, I love data, and I love managing things and making things more efficient. Even in college, I would think to myself, “Okay, how can I take the fastest route on the subway home?” Efficiency is my mindset. I thought, “How can I put that into a career related to data? How can I have a career that I really like as well as one that will pay the rent?” That is how I ended up going into the data field.
When I initially graduated from UIC I got a job with a small tech company in Seoul. There I got the experience of the business life and I got to work with international customers, that introduced me to the tech side of things. I got energized about working for a tech company. Later on as I was building my skill set to get a job in America I realized, “Hey, Excel is kind of cool. I like using this.”
I mean, that is the big thing now, data. Most people think politics or the public sector, going into a job like that. You know, Samsung, KakaoTalk, etc. You have to think outside the box and work with the smaller companies so you get a more intimate knowledge of how the business works. Then you can go to a big company and take that knowledge.
4. If you had to choose one essential skill that is critical in order to succeed in the workplace, what would it be?
For general, personal skill I would say being able to think outside the box. Being able to take that job and kind of make it your own. Being able to adapt and see things from a different lens than just your normal view. Being able to deal with ambiguous situations and take initiative. I think one of the biggest things in my interview for the position I am in now is that they love my initiative. Being able to show that “Hey I can take this on, I can do what you need me to do.”
For a more tangible skill, I love Excel. I think every company uses it because, you know, we are in the data age now. So if you can use Excel you will be in the top percentage of applicants. From administrative, tech, to even a pharmacist job.
5. How did your UIC experience prepare you for your career (previous internships/ school clubs at college/ study abroad programs, etc.)?
I was involved in the UIC Ambassadors. I also did cheer for one year, even doing that is fantastic. And I did a program called NEAN, North East Asian Network, where I was the project manager for the business team. Just little things that show that you are getting involved, that you are taking initiative. Things that show that you are not just the average person that wants the job. Show your work ethic through the activities you do. A little extra is I have a black belt. Even if it is athletic, not even related to business, it is like “Oh, you achieved that level. So you must be a hard worker, you must be able to really put your mind into something and get it done.”
Akaraka and Yongojeon were also some of my favorite things ever. Because I entered in the fall of 2011, it was Yongojeon season when I entered. I felt like kind of an outsider as an international student, but when I got in and did the cheers with everybody. I felt like I was part of the school. That instilled pride in me. Even now, I still have Yonsei pride and UIC pride even though no one in my company knows my university. I think having that pride of, “Yeah, I came from a good school, I came from a good place, I can get a good job.” I think being able to experience so many different things in, for me, a foreign country was the coolest thing. Have pride in where you come from. Have confidence in your background.
One thing that people may not know about is the women’s soccer team at Yonsei. I was actually part of and we won the Seoul Cup. When I came in I didn’t know they had a soccer team until I was a senior, and then at that point I could only play for one semester. Learning about different teams and things. Some underclassmen have contacted me through Instagram about it. If there are any girls out there who would want to join, the team is an amazing group of girls and so much fun. So for anyone out there that plays soccer, join the W Kicks women’s soccer team. Their instagram handle is @wkicks_yonsei.
6. As one of our alumni, please give us some of your advice and/or recommendations regarding UIC student life.
Be involved in a lot of different things. Experience different things. Even if it is not something that you’re good at, or something that you have a really strong interest in, being able to get different viewpoints and different perspectives and develop these different relations with people. Even as an alumni I still keep in contact with professors or people that I met in college that can help me. Or sometimes, they will be like “Hey, I’m coming to Seattle, can you tell me a good place to hang? Or a good place to stay?” So I think creating experiences and relationships that will continue to provide dividends years down the road once you’ve graduated.